Food On Film – Assignment 3 (Blog Post 8)

Robert Kenner’s Food, Inc. (2008) is a big-picture look at America’s corporate farming industry, and the way humans, environments, and animals have been affected in the rise of its unsustainability.

The sounds in this particular clip are not uncommon, as are those heard in the rest of the documentary. We are offered a clean marriage of voice, music, and non-diegetic sounds. The interview audio is so crisp and unpolluted, that I imagine I’d be super excited to edit this film, due to the range of possibilities when it comes to combining different sounds together. I personally maintain, like Martin (2011) does, that clear sound is essential when you want people to listen to your message. As great as it can be to be immersed in a wild combination of ambient sound effects, I appreciate clarity of voice far more. The sounds in this clip have different intentions. The strong machine sounds emphasise the unnatural quality of this particular source of food production. The cow’s moos remind us that these are living beings. I cannot imagine the same effects had these clips been totally silent. I was conflicted by the use of the music track, however. A rock-type song in this kind of context? But now I understand that it has been used for its build-up of intensity, to emphasise the grandness of large-scale corporate agriculture, and its influence on our life choices.

The sound in my own documentary is a bit different. A lot more of the sound is natural ambience that we recorded on-site. As explored in the reading (Martin, 2011), these sounds are a replication of the experience of standing in the centre of Jan’s farm. They “[create] a sense of reality for the viewer, the sense of ‘being there’” (p. 1) themselves. Our interview has recorded both voice and the sounds of birds. At the shoot, I considered this noise to be a negative thing. But then I rethought the connotations of hearing content bird sounds — that is, life, vivacity, harmony in nature, etc. These were the themes we wanted to capture in our documentary anyway. We considered before shooting our interview that our sound should not be affected by the rain or wind we were standing in and were lucky enough to ensure this at the time. The sounds of other animals were added into the mix in post. They are present throughout the film, however, not enough to overpower the voice. The sound we are using in our final montage is by far, my favourite. It is a simple music score both light and airy. The first time I listened to it, it reminded me of taking a deep breath of fresh air at Jan’s farm. The second time I listened to it, it was edited to accompany quick images of nature. It conveyed an appreciation for these images, for the environment, and for animal life, that a rock song would not be able to achieve.

Food, Inc. (2008). [Documentary Film] Los Angeles, CA: Robert Kenner; Richard Pearce; Eric Schlosser; Melissa Robledo; William Pohlad.

Martin, J 2011, ‘Being there: the creative use of location and post-production sound in documentaries’ in de Jong, W, Knudsen, E, & Rothwell, J, Creative Documentary: Theory and Practice, 1st edn, Routledge, London, pp. 287-304.

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